Proposed New School in Rutherford County Near Potentially Hazardous Waste Site

Members of the Rutherford County School Board are interested in building a school on farmland in the Walter Hill residential community, even though it’s near a landfill with a history of potential hazards.

Multiple neighborhoods, businesses and churches surround the property, near the existing Walter Hill Elementary School, said Rutherford County School spokesman James Evans.

“The land for the schools has undergone environmental and geotechnical testing and has been deemed suitable for school construction,” Evans said in an emailed statement.

According to a 2011 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation document, the landfill had aluminum waste deposited there between the 1990s and 2007.

The landfill is on the north side of the East Stones River, one half mile east of Walter Hill and six miles north of Murfreesboro, according to the Consent Order between TDEC and BFI Waste Systems of Tennessee.

In 2011, the document went on to say, this location had an apparent exothermic reaction, and that caused elevated temperatures.

A series of piping was installed to draw off heat and pressure from the area. A hot void was discovered in the landfill.

“The respondent has identified that aluminum waste within the Middle Point Landfill is undergoing an exothermic reaction that requires active management of heat and other reaction by-products,” the document said.

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“TDEC issued a Consent Order that company submit a Corrective Action Plan detailing actions to be taken to manage the reaction occurring within the permitted footprint of the facility and to minimize the potential for future exothermic reactions at other locations within the landfill.”

In an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star, TDEC spokesman Eric Ward said “there is no fire at Middle Point landfill, although salt cake can generate heat.”

“The site has installed a permanent cap, temporary cap, and interim cover to isolate salt cake from potential contact with water. Middle Point has fulfilled the requirements of the 2011 consent order and we continue to closely monitor landfill activities,” Ward said.

“TDEC inspects the landfill every month and continuously reviews landfill records and data to ensure they are operating in accordance with their operations and maintenance plan and their permit.”

County Commissioner Steve Pearcy said he knows the proposed school is not far from the landfill site. But he also said he had not heard anything about potential hazards to children.

Pearcy had to end a phone conversation with us Tuesday, and he did not respond to a follow-up request for comment Wednesday.

County Mayor Bill Ketron did not return The Star’s repeated requests for comment his week

According to a 2007 Murfreesboro Post article, Middle Point Landfill, on Jefferson Pike outside Murfreesboro and next to the East Fork Stones River, received 10 million pounds of low-level radioactive waste in 2005 alone, prompting concerns it could contaminate the local water supply.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Middle Point Landfill” by Middle Point Landfill.









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